Syria: Nusra Front merge with Iraq Qaeda wing

AP informs us, citing a post to an unnamed jihadist wesbite, that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, "emir" of the Islamic State in Iraq, formerly known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, has announced a merger with Syria's Nusra Front to form a new organization, the "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham"—the latter term refering to Syria, or the whole Levant. "It is time to declare to al-Sham and to the world that Jabhat al-Nusra is simply a branch of the Islamic State of Iraq," the statement reads. Al-Baghdadi said the Iraqi group is providing half its budget to the Syrian counterpart, and that the Nusra Front will not have a separate leader but be led by the "people of Syria themselves"—implying that he will be in charge of both.

This ominous development does have one delicious aspect to it: the bind into which it places those elements of the "idiot left" in the US (Workers World Party, International Action Center, International ANSWER, FIST, Party for Socialism and Liberation [sic]) that cheered on the jihadis in Iraq as the "resistance" and then attempted to discredit the Syrian rebels as jihadis! We've pointed out before that those Syrian jihadists were likely exactly the same ones they were so recently rooting for in Iraq! Now it's official!

Making it even more surreal, these idiot-leftists repeatedly assert that the Syrian jihadists are entirely a creation of US imperialism—while their Iraqi counterparts were of course heroic anti-imperialists. Whoops!

How will they finesse this dilemma? Probably, in cowardly manner, they will simply ignore it and hope nobody notices, for as long as possible. We should all do our part to press them on it, and expose them as the opportunist hucksters they are. The sooner the "idiot left" is laughed off the political stage, the sooner we may hope for the emergence of a real intelligent left, that can oppose US imperialism without betraying secular democratic principles, logic, or basic human solidarity.

Meanwhile, the regime launched air-strikes on Aleppo over the weekend, killing at least 15 in the city. Air-strikes elsewhere around the country killed that many again, including eight civilians—five from one family—in the village of Hurbanafsa, Hama province. This information from the decidedly non-jihadist Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based on reports from the Local Coordination Committees—the civil resistance network which is the revolution's earliest organized manifestation, and continues to survive even as armed actors have come to dominate the scene. (Daily Star, Lebanon, April 7)

It is sadly telling that most of the "left" in the United States is more outraged over supposed US support for the Syrian rebels than over this bloodletting. What's up with that?




Psuedo-left idiocy on Syria... and glimmers of intelligence

Some reading suggestions. Clay Claiborne's Linux Beach blog has a very refreshing takedown of the odious Counterpunch for their repeated, shameless shilling for Assad (and Qaddafi before him, natch). And Pham Binh (of Occupy Wall Street's Class War Camp) on The North Star comes back swinging against an apparently lengthy attack on his principled stance in defense of Syria's opposition in a new tome from the Party for Socialism and Liberation (sic) entitled Socialists and War: Two Opposing Trends. It's a bit of a teapot tempest, but the issues discussed are actually weighty, given PSL's utterly bogus "anti-war" position which sees the Syrian revolution only as imperialist aggression. (We've noted Pham's dogged defense of freedom in Syria against pseudo-left idiocy before.)

On the up side, there is a statement online at the Syria Freedom Forever website entitled "Solidarity With the Syrian Struggle for Dignity and Freedom," which has been signed by (among many others) Vijay Prashad, Tariq Ali, Rashid Khalidi, Ilan Pappe, Adam Shapiro, Norman Finkelstein and John Holloway. (Partial list of signatories here.) An excerpt:

The fight in Syria is an extension of the fight for freedom regionally and worldwide. It cannot be divorced from the struggles of the Bahrainis, Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans, Yemenis, and other peoples who have revolted against oppression and authoritarianism as well as against those seeking to usurp or destroy the uprisings and divert them for their own agendas. It is connected to the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom, dignity and equality. The revolution in Syria is a fundamental part of the North African revolutions, yet, it is also an extension of the Zapatista revolt in Mexico, the landless movement in Brazil, the European and North American revolts against neoliberal exploitation, and an echo of Iranian, Russian, and Chinese movements for freedom. This is a revolution where women have also played a central role.

The Syrian revolution has confronted a world upside down, one where states that were allegedly friends of the Arabs such as Russia, China, and Iran have stood in support of the slaughter of people, while states that never supported democracy or independence, especially the US and their Gulf allies, have intervened in support of the revolutionaries. They have done so with clear cynical self interest...

Given that regional and world powers have left the Syrian people alone, we ask you to lend your support to those Syrians still fighting for justice, dignity, and freedom, and who have withstood the deafening sounds of the battle, as well as rejected the illusions sold by the enemies of freedom.

As intellectuals, academics, activists, artists, concerned citizens, and social movements we stand in solidarity with the Syrian people to emphasize the revolutionary dimension of their struggle and to prevent the geopolitical battles and proxy wars taking place in their country. We ask you to lend your support to all Syrians from all backgrounds asking for a peaceful transition of power, one where all Syrians can have a voice and decide their own fate. We also reject all attempts of any group to monopolize power, and to impose its own agenda, or to impose unitary or homogenous identities on the Syrian people. We ask you to support those people and organizations on the ground that still uphold the ideals for a free and democratic Syria.

The statement may be too dismissive of imperialist intrigues, or the growing role of opportunists and jihadists in the Syrian revolution. But other statements on the same website are forthright in calling out jihadist and imperialist intervention in the Syrian struggle. And it still starts to move the debate in the right direction. This blogger signed it.

Assad: West will "pay high price" for backing al-Qaeda

Like Qaddafi before him, Assad is simultaneously playing the al-Qaeda and imperilaist plot cards to discredit the opposition. "The West has paid heavily for funding al-Qaeda in its early stages. Today it is doing the same in Syria, Libya and other places, and will pay a heavy price in the heart of Europe and the United States," he said April 17.  

And of course, the après moi le déluge card. "There is no option but victory, otherwise it will be the end of Syria and I don't think that the Syrian people will